But this isn't a review. Maybe a little bit. Okay, here's the review part: After conferring with famed comic artist, Mike "one of the nicest guys in the business" Norton, I purchased the scaled down version of the program rather than the EX, pro, version which costs more. The cheaper version seems to do everything you'd need to put out a comic, save double splash pages. I suppose if I was a comic book professional, I'd buy the bigger program, but if you're just dipping your toe in the digital waters, save yourself some coin.
I use a Cintiq so I can draw right on the screen and I gotta say the "feel" of the pen is great. I'm a terrible inker but now the undo button is my friend. I also love the "vanishing point" filter which helps immensely with perspective and boy do I need help with perspective (see previous post).
So with all the experience of this two page comic behind me, I have to say I give the software a thumbs up. I can only imagine what I'll be able to do when I actually learn how to use it. End review.
Because this blog is allegedly about the artistic process, that's what I'll talk about even though this comic was just a lark to experiment with the program.
Hellboy Jr and I go way back. He's a creation of Mike Mignola and Bill Wray. Or maybe Bill goaded Mike into it. Whatever, the trade paperback collection has the distinction of having a cover that suggests it might be for kids and yet it's the least kid friendly of anything connected to Hellboy. I started doing Hellboy Jr drawings on the CBR Hellboy forum years ago (The earliest are REALLY embarassing). I just had fun drawing a sassy, loud mouthed, pint-sized version of Hellboy.
I even posted a color comic online which went for several pages and had a guest appearance by Lobster Johnson! Heck if I can find it online though. Feel free to search. [UPDATE: HERE IT IS] Anyway, my version of Hellboy Jr. was more G rated and had a personality closer to a crabby Donald Duck than anything else.
So this comic started with something from my life. After a financially enforced moratorium on comics, I was buying the Hellboy stories I missed but was determined to "wait for the trades" of all future stories instead of buying all the single issues of Hellboy. But I was undone by just how crazy good those issues are. I decided to translate that into a little comic.
I had two ideas: Hellboy Jr. opening a comic and being assaulted by the imagery and him being angry at Mike Mignola benefiting from his extra purchases.
Normally I'd thumbnail out the panel layout with rough compositions but the program has all sorts of templates of panels so I just did a "drag and drop." As far as panel composition, I just played around at full size.
Along with my free copies of Darkwing Duck comics, BOOM Studios comped me a Don Rosa Uncle Scrooge collection which is probably what led to the Scrooge McMike images which really sell the gag. While I didn't copy panels exactly, that's the famous Scrooge McDuck money bin quote that I have Mike reciting.
HBjr's personality filled in the rest. His belittling of the other comic shop patrons sets him up for the fall. There's some admitted sloppiness in some of the panels but it was just a couple of days between thought and final execution. I gave myself a deadline to be done with it; I really should have put more thought and research into the panel where junior opens the comic. Still in all, a successful experiment and a lot of fun. I really need to do another before I forget everything I learned.
The word balloons were just dragged onto the artwork and squashed to the appropriate shape. The text automatically fills the balloon as you type. There's a tool that let's you drag out the tail. I agree with Mike Norton that in a world where technology can get in the way, the interface of Manga Studio 4 just sorta works. It made it easy for me to do what I wanted.
The program has a PDF manual that covers waaaay too much, or at least more than I needed to do this comic. There was a "For Dummies" book published for an earlier release and additional help about the new edition located online by the book's author.
Okay, that last part was also a little reviewy. If you have any questions, post them in the comments and I'll try to answer but keep in mind that my experience is very limited.
I'll wrap up the post with a video of Mike Norton inking a comics page on his Cintiq using the EX version of the program.
Thanks and come again -- Tad